William McDonough – an architect who has received international fame as a leader in environmentally and economically sustainable design – will give a free on-campus lecture this evening about intelligent, green building solutions.

McDonough, who was named the “Hero of the Planet” by Time magazine and received the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development – the nation’s most prestigious environmental award – for his sustainable designs and green business savvy, will lecture at Campbell Hall at 8 p.m. tonight. The event, titled “Cradle to Cradle Design – Creating an Environmentally and Economically Intelligent Future,” will highlight McDonough’s innovative approach toward using industrial resources effectively through architectural planning.

McDonough said his talk will focus on explaining his “Cradle to Cradle” design approach.

“I’m going to be talking about a concept called Cradle to Cradle (versus cradle to grave) … and I’m going to be looking at an industrial revolution based on this new design paradigm,” McDonough said. “Cradle to Cradle looks at materials as nutrition, so we design things as either soil nutrients or technological nutrients, meaning we design things either to go back to soil safely or back to industry in closed cycles.”

According to McDonough, rethinking building practices should be the nation’s top priority in fighting environmental crises.

“I think we have a design problem,” McDonough said. “If we look at the current system of manufacturing and our production, you have to ask if it’s our intention to contribute to climate change, global warming, plastics in the oceans, endocrine disruptors and heavy metal contamination.”

“At this point in human history, any building that is using fossil fuels or nuclear power to drive it is part of the problem. … Most of modern life has proven to be highly problematic from an environmental perspective, so we need a new design,” McDonough said.

People working at and attending college campuses are in a powerful position to significantly lessen environmental harm, he said.

“I think college campuses are the ideal place to address these issues,” McDonough said. “You’re surrounded by smart people who can do math, and the math tells us that it’s urgent for us to come up with strategies. Where better to explore the future?”

And, McDonough said, there are a number of ways for students on campus to individually reduce the carbon footprint of their community.

“[Students are] going to inherit the planet and it would be nice if they inherited something on a positive trajectory instead of a negative one,” McDonough said. “There are things at universities like setting up composting facilities and recycling stations, so that’s a simple beginning. I think a lot of the issues around mobility can be addressed by students.”

The free lecture is presented as part of the Global Warming, Food Security and Our Energy Future Event Series, which falls under the umbrella of the Institute for Energy Efficiency’s Energy Leadership Lecture Series.

To aid his lecture, McDonough said he will be displaying visual examples of his environmentally intelligent designs.

“I’ll be showing lots of examples,” McDonough said. “We did the Ford Rouge manufacturing factory, with world’s largest green roof. We did a building at Overland College that makes more energy than it needs to operate. We’ve designed cloth that is safe to eat and carpets that are instantly recyclable.”

And as an endnote to his presentation, McDonough said hopes to dispel myths about the costly disposition of environmentally conscious materials.

“I think [this environmental trend is] coming very quickly,” McDonough said. “I think a lot of people have seen the green agenda as adding cost, but we’ve been able to show that it is actually price neutral.”